Posted on Jan 13, 2021

Health Care Simulation in the COVID Era

Health Care Simulation in the COVID Era

 L. Alan Todd, DNP, CRNA, CHSE, became the College of Nursing’s Assistant Dean for the Center for Experiential Learning and Simulation on April 1, just weeks after the coronavirus pandemic hit. We asked him about COVID-19’s impact on simulation in academic nursing.  

Q: Now that some in-person classes are open, what does simulation look like? 

A: We reopened the Tampa, Sarasota-Manatee, and St. Petersburg simulation labs this fall. Students have been very receptive to the measures we have put into place for their safety. We can offer them very similar experiences to what we offered before the pandemic.  

It is really incredible to see the faculty incorporate innovative teaching strategies to meet the needs of our learners during the pandemic. 

Some of our graduate courses that traditionally utilize the lab have moved to virtual or online activities. Some faculty members developed interactive Blackboard Collaborate sessions to facilitate student engagement in place of the lab activities. Others have moved to use telehealth encounters that mimic what we are now doing in clinical practice. 

The simulation activities for the undergraduate nursing students were combined into a “boot camp” to deliver the hands-on skills they need before starting clinical. Some of the scenario-based simulation activities were incorporated into case studies scenarios that are presented in the classroom. 

The pandemic has definitely moved us to utilize more virtual simulation modalities. I don’t think that virtual simulation tools will replace live simulation experiences, but we are definitely moving to a hybrid approach in simulation education.  

Q: What simulation exercises are offered that are specifically related to pandemic/COVID-19 preparedness? 

A: We have incorporated donning and doffing of PPE activities for our undergraduate students, and faculty are creating scenarios related to patient encounters with COVID-positive patients. I definitely see us expanding our activities to address the preparedness of our students in addressing health care encounters and infection control measures in this new environment.  

Q: What are the ways COVID-19 has changed the way simulation is offered or taught? 

A: We are constantly looking at our processes and making sure we are offering a safe environment for everyone. I think we all recognize the risk, and we are willing to do what it takes to provide the best educational experience for our students

My message to our team is that we have the ability to impact the health care of hundreds if not thousands of lives through simulation. It is a big responsibility, but we are dedicated to this charge and are up for the challenge!

Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing